But the trip was lots of fun: we spent our first day in Florida at the Universal Studios "Islands of Adventure" theme park, then drove to the east coast of Florida, where we spent time on the beach and visited the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, and then we returned to Orlando for a day at Disney's Magic Kingdom. I also made my family spend a couple of hours at a botanical garden in Orlando.
After the long months of midwest winter, I was very happy to be able to see green grass and trees again, and as a gardener and garden blogger, I paid attention to (and took photos of) the plants that grow in Florida, many of which are very different from those I can grow here in Iowa.
I wasn't expecting much in the way of horticultural beauty at theme parks, but I was pleasantly surprised by Universal Studios. The level of thoughtful and creative planning of garden areas, as well as the excellence of their maintenance certainly contributed to my enjoyment of the day I spent there. And it turns out that Universal Studios has won an award for their efforts at sustainability as well.
The park is divided into different theme areas, which were marked by different horticultural styles. Let me share a few photos of outstanding areas:
|The use of exaggerated topiary shapes goes well with the style of the Dr. Seuss books. This delightful creature looks right at home here.|
|The Truffula trees from "The Lorax" are enhanced |
by clumps of ornamental grasses.
|The lollipop topiaries in the background are suitably silly, as is this clever faux-topiary tree|
that is actually a series of planters containing rainbow-hued annuals. Very creative.
|These orange snapdragons (one of my favorite annual flowers) look stylistically right in this setting, and are blooming prolifically. Someone creative and competent is responsible for the plantings in the entire Seuss Landing area.|
Harry Potter's Wizarding World
|Hogwarts and Hogsmead are planted mainly with northern-looking conifers, which are appropriate to the Scottish setting of the Harry Potter books, but which do seem to be struggling a bit in the hot and humid Florida climate.|
|A photo of the "Continental Divide" between the northern British conifer-filled world of Harry Potter on the left,|
and the lush tropical foliage-filled Jurassic Park on the right.
|More Jurassic foliage. Very healthy looking plants. I can only imagine how much watering, cutting out of dead leaves and other horticultural maintenance must take place every morning before the park opens.|
|More exotic looking foliage, with an occasional flower.|
|The Lost Continent area of the park is a vague mixture of middle-eastern Sinbad-inspired|
areas and South American archaeological-looking areas.
|Some xeriscape-looking plants in a gravel bed.|
|A tree with exotic-looking fluffy buds on it.|
Someone obviously has taken time to think of unusual
plants to include in the park. Bravo for these unknown
horticultural planners, and for all the dedicated
and competent maintenance staff!
In my next post, I will share some photos of my trip to the botanical garden in Orlando that I managed to visit. Thanks for reading! -Beth